Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Celebration Day: Reflections of 2012



Hello all, it's been a hot minute since we've just chatted. This past year we've discussed numerous subjects ranging from my travels throughout the US and Israel, leadership and personal development ideas, meditations on being an ethical protector, thoughts about some of the darker side of humanity regarding protecting self and others from various forms of violence and finally path notes of mental chatter as we wind down this rambling road called life together. That said, I am sitting here reflecting on this past year, as well as some years prior and of course, the year to come, as I watch Led Zeppelin's Celebration Day, the latest cd/dvd pack from their 2007 London performance. If you are a Zep fan (or want to be) I would recommend that you pick it up!

Ahhhh 2012... Don't get me wrong, it wasn't without its challenges (some bigger than others) but overall, I have no complaints. I am surrounded by people who inspire me; I am following my bliss and seeing more and more success doing it; I have my health (aside from my usual aches, pains and injuries); I have amazing family, friends and colleagues; I'm not (financially) rich, but I'm not living in a cardboard box (yet) and although sometimes times are a little tight I have to remind myself that I still live better than about 95% of the worlds population and I am able to do some pretty amazing things, so I never let myself lose sight of how fortunate I really am! Much of that fortune is because of you... Yes, that's right, I did say YOU! Most likely you my dear reader have contributed to my success in some small or not so small way, so thank YOU! I can't express how much I appreciate all of you. But I can say this: I don't know exactly how 2013 will unfold, but I am excited about the possibilities and opportunities that it brings with it. Judging from my calendar, I am off to a fantastic start. My January is booked solid; February is pretty busy with events, including being key note speaker for this years West Michigan Counseling Association's Winter Conference and a 3 day workshop I am doing with Israeli Krav International Head Instructor Moshe Katz (Click here for details). As for the rest of my year? Can you say: Resolution Group International - Israeli Krav International - Budo Taijutsu - The Conquerors - Babacita - Ronin Krav Maga - The PeaceWalker Project - Ronin Empowerment Group - and many others! I won't spoil the rest of the surprise for you, but, it is already filling with numerous trips, workshops, video shoots, book openings, seminars, presentations, proposals, teaching, learning, donating, contributing, growing, exploring & creating!

So enough about me, tell me what do you have to be thankful for? What does next year have in store for you!? What kind of year will you create? I hope some of you write in and tell me what's going on in your lives.

As you start strolling down 2013's path, remember the four (4) principles of the PeaceWalker:

1) See Conflict as an Opportunity.
2) Embrace the Universal Life Value - That ALL Life is to be Protected and Respected.
3) Work Toward Most Good / Least Harm for Everyone.
4) Share Through Inspiration.

If you follow that recipe you're bound to have a more fulfilling year!

I look forward to sharing our journey next year. So let's all...

Keep Going!

All the best,
~Craig





Thursday, December 20, 2012

Give Me The Courage To Change The Things I Can

  

 Arbor Circle Grand Rapids, MI

I was hoping that my last blog post about the tragedy in Connecticut wouldn't be followed up so soon by yet another tragic event that has impacted our community so greatly. The incident that occurred a few days ago (December 17th, 2012) at Arbor Circle mental health clinic here in Grand Rapids Michigan when a 27 year old man shot and killed two acquaintances who had drove him to his therapy session. After the man got out of his counseling meeting he got into the car that drove him there and shot the two women that drove him to his appointment then turned the pistol on himself. When the police arrived at the scene the two women were already dead and the shooter, still alive was rushed to hospital where he died shortly after. Read the story here on WZZM 13.

Due to the shooting at the Newtown Connecticut school this recent event seems to have struck an already sensitive nerve in all of us in the Grand Rapids community. Some find their feelings to be overwhelming: Remorse for the loss of the three lives; sympathy for their families and friends; empathy toward the therapist who was treating and something else. Fear. Fear for what could have happened, fear of what might happen in the future.

I personally know many of the therapists and support staff who are current or former employees at Arbor Circle. Some had come to our RGI Conflict Management Workshop or one of my PeaceWalker workshops or attended one of my presentations at the West Michigan Counseling Association or Michigan Counseling Association or are simply friends. My thoughts are with each of them as well as the family and friends of the three people who lost their lives that tragic day. 

Being in the field that I am in, it is not uncommon for me to receive e-mails and phone calls from people who are looking for answers to many of life's challenges, namely that of empowerment, protection and conflict management. And due to the recent events, my phone has been ringing off the hook, my e-mails and facebook messages have been out of control as well. People are looking for answers; more accurately people want to feel safe.

I was on the East Coast when the Connecticut incident happened and driving back to Michigan when I heard about what happened at Arbor Circle. I was out there teaching a tactical defense seminar at Warrior Fitness before doing some training with conflict resolution and martial arts expert Jack Hoban. Jack and I were riding together in his Jeep when we heard the news of the Connecticut elementary school. As you can imagine, the news became the topic of our conversation.

Jack shared his perspective with me regarding what he thought of situations like this. I liked Jack's analogy of circumstances such as these being similar to natural disasters like tornado, hurricanes, tsunami, earthquakes, etc. He explained that humans are part of nature and like nature we have seasons, weather patterns and sometimes when conditions are just so, we experience immense storms. If you look at human nature you can see that each one of us is capable of great things as well destructive things. I like to say, "The good, the bad and the ugly." Like nature, sometimes storms happen and depending on the circumstance, innocent people can get caught in their destructive path(s). Situations like what recently transpired in Connecticut and Arbor Circle are examples of this.

So is there anything that we can do? Yes, there are somethings: Try to be prepared. Understand what some of the warning signs are. Watch for the conditions to be conducive for a storm and when things begin to take shape try to prevent, prepare for or avoid it to reduce its impact as much as possible. But remember that even if you see the pending signs you can still sometimes get caught in the devastation. The human condition can be more unpredictable than the weather, so it is no surprise that even the most seasoned professional(s) can sometimes miss interpret the warning signs or simply just be wrong. It's difficult to predict the improbable and virtually impossible to reason with crazy or fanatical. So trying to stop or legislate a force of nature can be... well futile. We can only do our best to prevent or prepare for it; be aware of the warning signs; manage it as best we can if it happens and deal with the aftermath in a empathetic and insightful way. 

Are there specific tactics to deal with an active shooter, suicide bomber, psychopathy or sociopath? Yes of course. Just like there are specific tactics to deal with hurricanes, tornado and tsunamis. But they are guidelines and no guarantee that anyone will survive unscathed or sometimes at all. But try not to worry too much about these things, because they are outliers, meaning that they are not the norm. Statistically they are unlikely, however due to their high profile nature they feel more likely than they actually are. You could win the lotto tomorrow, however I wouldn't quit your job today or stop contributing to your retirement fund quite yet.

I hate to be overly redundant, but (if you read my last blog) I'm afraid I have to be:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

By Reinhold Niebuhr


Stay safe out there and...

Keep going,

~Craig 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When Words Aren't Enough

 


Words cannot begin to describe my feelings toward the tragedy that happened at the Newtown Connecticut Elementary school on December 14th, 2012. My sincere condolences go out to those families and loved ones who lost someone that they loved. I can't even imagine what those poor families are going through, it tears me up inside thinking about it. I'm sure you parents out there are both grateful and fearful. Grateful for your children being safe and fearful hoping that it never happens to your family. Even a single incident like this is one too many, however the world is no stranger to violence and violence will continue to plague our human condition as it always has. In its wake it will leave people afraid, confused and in search for meaning, answers, security and comfort. Each of us will come to various conclusions on how to deal with our feelings of vulnerability to the uncertainties our world brings us. Each of us will think of ways to protect ourselves; those we love; the life we have grown accustom to and feel entitled to. Our rational minds will try to put logic to the events that have passed: How? Why? How could it have been stopped? And (maybe) most importantly, how can we stop it from happening again? Everyone has a different opinion on these answers; our need for some type of meaning, for things to make sense is deep and visceral. We need answers to our questions to feel safe, even if the answers that we come up with end up being completely wrong, misguided or even create larger problems, the sense of stability is still so important to us that we are often willing to believe in lies or things that will later seem preposterous.

You may be wondering what my point to all of this is? So here it is: I don't know how you are going to make sense of all of this, but however you do choose to put things together, be mindful of your decision because it will continue to shape how you live in your world around you. The decisions you make today will determine the life you live tomorrow. 

To feel emotions is healthy, but taken to extreme, fear will make your world small and painful. Anger and hate toward others will eat you alive and bleed into your own relationships leaving your life hollow and empty. Fearful people are those who feel dis-empowered and who have no clarity and faith in something bigger than themselves. Fearful, angry, hateful people are reactionary and dangerous.

Do you want to feel more safe? A good start is to follow Reinhold Niebuhr's famous words:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.


More answers lay with: 
  • Clarifying the Universal Life Value, that all life is to be protected and respected.
  • Empowering more protectors.
  • Work toward most good least harm for all.
  • Inspire others to be leaders.
There will always be someone or thing that will threaten us and those we care about. Seek peace, but be prepared to fight to protect life, empower others to do the same. Go and tell someone who you care about that you love them; give your kid a hug; don't just appreciate your life, go live it. Be present in every moment. Because in the end moments are all we have, so don't waste a single one.  

Be well and keep going.

~Craig



  

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Leader, The Bully, The Bystander



It's a hot day on the Savanna you and your antelope friends are hot and thirsty so you decide to go to the local watering hole and wet your whistles. You all approach the water to get a drink when seemingly out of nowhere there is a rustle of leaves and sharp yelp as Antelope Bob gets attacked and dragged away by hungry lion. As Bob is getting dragged away to his untimely antelope doom, many things are going on in you and all of your antelope friend's heads: Bob doesn't need help, he'll get away; someone else will surely help Bob; I can't help, I don't know the first thing about rescuing antelope; I would help, but I'm in a hurry to get my antlers looked at; Bob should have been more careful; Bob was asking for it, he should have been more prepared; It's survival of the fittest and, well, let's just say Bob wasn't the brightest bulb; (feeling a bit guilty) boy, I'll sure miss Bob, but I'm glad it wasn't me!

This phenomenon is call the bystander effect. According to David Meyers, The bystander effect or Genovese syndrome is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases where individuals do not offer any means of help in an emergency situation to the victim when other people are present. The probability of help has often appeared to be inversely related to the number of bystanders; in other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help. The mere presence of other bystanders greatly decreases intervention. In general, this is believed to happen because as the number of bystanders increases, any given bystander is less likely to notice the situation, interpret the incident as a problem, and less likely to assume responsibility for taking action.


How can we combat the bystander effect? Well, according to top social psychologists the following five elements increase the chances for someone to overcome the bystander effect:

1. Notice that something is happening. 
2. Interpret what’s happening. 
3. Take responsibility for providing help. (Overcome diffusion of responsibility)
4. Know how to help.
5. Actually help.
LatanĂ©, B. and Darley, J. M. (1970) The unresponsive bystander: Why doesn’t he help? Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall


Here is a story that conflict expert Jack Hoban often tells regarding bullying (I changed it slightly):

You're on the playground and you see a kid getting bullied by a bigger kid. Pretty much everyone sees that as being wrong. Congratulations your moral. You know wrong from right. 

You overcome the embarrassment of being called a tattle tail and the fear of being confronted later by the bully for telling on him and you go get a teacher to help. Congratulations you are ethical: You do the right thing when it is difficult to do so, or you don't have to (ethics = morals in action). 

Now, there are no teachers or adults around to help and if you don't step in, the smaller kid is going to get pounded. So, you over come your fear of being beat up yourself, the anxiety of maybe having to hurt someone else, the reality of possibility of getting kicked out of school and/or grounded by your parents for "fighting." You overcome all of these fears and you decide to step in and stand up to the bully. Now you have the makings of an Ethical Protector (or Ethical Warrior, or what I often call the PeaceWalker).

To take it even a step further, the next day when you see the bigger kid who was being the bully the day before, you approach him and say something like this: "Hey George, is everything alright with you man? You seem like you're a nice enough guy; what was going on with you and Bob?"

That story helps to simply clarify the concepts of morals, ethics and ethical protection. We have to also remember not to demonize (dehumanize) the person (or group) who are being the bullies.

It only takes ONE person to step up, then others step up as well. But that one person has to have guts to be the first to make the stand!




 Keep in mind that bullies, victims and bystanders grow up to be adults and often will carry their habits forward into the world. Bullies often continue to be bullies, victims often become bullies themselves or resort to passive aggressive or self destructive behavior. Have you ever had a demeaning, control freak tyrant for a boss? (Bully) or had to deal with someone who you couldn't trust because they said one thing and did another (passive aggressive) or just wouldn't engage or communicate directly, rather they would stab you in the back or be some kind of social media  - terrorist. This behavior isn't only reserved for individuals, we see it in our communities, governments and societies as well. From office politics to genocide, bullies are nothing new. 

The philosophy is intriguing, the psychological explanation is interesting, but the real question is what can we do about it?!

My answer is simple (not to be confused with easy):

Inspire more people to become PROTECTORS & LEADERS! 

Protectors of life (Self & ALL others).
Leaders of our own lives.
Leaders of our friends & families.
Leaders of our schools.
Leaders of our communities.
Leaders of our world.

We are all protectors and we cannot have too many leaders. Now you may be thinking; Craig, everyone can't be a leader, some people have to followers right? My answer to your thought is that true leaders make the BEST team members. Leaders are confident individuals that don't always be in the spotlight or directing the group. Often the true leaders are soft spoken, humble, they can follow orders, they can play their part and when needed they can step up and take charge. 

The difference between a manager and a leader is this:

A manager follows the rules.
A leader does what's right.

We need more LEADERS!

Here is the leaders checklist:
  • See Conflict as an Opportunity
  • Embrace the Universal Life Value (All life is to be protected and respected)
  • Work Toward Most Good Least Harm for Everyone
  • Share Through Inspiration

This will take some courage on your part and you'll be more successful if you have clarity and some skills:
  • Ethical Clarity
  • Emotional Tools
  • Psychological Tools
  • Verbal Tools
  • Physical Tools
Knowledge and data are not enough, these things have to be activated and sustained. It is a journey not a destination. there is too much information out there. Heck, even reading this blog post adds to the information overload we have. We need clarity and activation, not more data! We have too much data already, if you don't believe me just Google it!

So how you get ethical clarity and develop emotional, psychological, verbal and physical tools? Simple, you need to TRAIN! That's right actual training that deals with more than just thinking about something, you'll have to DO SOMETHING! 

If you are wondering where to get training, here are some resources:


Oh, and for the record, people who are leaders live much more successful and fulfilling lives. Rather than being victims themselves, they choose to exercise the power that is in all of us. The more true leaders we have, the less bystander effect we'll see with bullying or anything else.

Here is your action step:

Today go out of your way to say or do something nice for someone you don't know. Open a door, carry someones groceries, tell someone you don't know that you like their shoes, ask someone if they need a hand if they look like they could use one, etc. If you want to make it more difficult try this with someone that is not like you, someone you wouldn't normally be inclined to help: Someone from a different ethnicity, age, perceived socioeconomic class, job, etc.! Repeat this a minimum of three times today. Let me know what happens! 




"Where ever I go people are safer because I am there."

"Where ever I am someone in need has a friend."

"When ever I return home everyone is happy that I am there."

~It's a better life! 



All the best,
~Craig






  






Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Hero's Journey



Joseph Campbell has been one of my un-met mentors ever since I first heard him on Bill Moyers The Power of Myth interview. I first saw the series in 1988 about a year after Campbell's death and I have been hooked ever since. Campbell helped me to clarify and define my perspective toward training, teaching and my life's journey. His words added the fuel I needed to ignite my life's passion. His perspective resonated in me and added the depth needed to take my training and teaching to a deeper level. He is responsible for helping me begin to understand humanities connection to something deeper; my connection to humanity and things bigger than ourselves, things that are felt but difficult to articulate. The Hero's Journey for me was a Warrior's Journey, a Protector's Journey. A journey that cut through relative differences to a deeper Universal Value. Joe was one of my first mentor's on this path I am still traveling on today. A mentor who still speaks to me in unexpected ways. The most recent way was when David Sarnacki (a fellow Krav Tribesman) contacted me regarding my speech at Pecha Kucha Night last year. David was considering putting together a presentation and speaking at one of the upcoming events himself. I gave him the coordinator's contact information and away he went. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend his event, but he did forward me the YouTube clip to watch. I was excited to see his performance. When I looked at the video I was surprised to see what subject he chose to talked about. To my surprise and delight, his presentation was a breakdown of Joseph Cambell's Hero's Journey.
They say a picture's worth a thousand words, so rather than me writing about David's presentation, here is the video clip for you to see for yourselves. 

PechaKucha With David Sarnacki

 

 Unfortunately I never had the chance to meet Joseph Campbell in person. I learned that I just missed one of his discussions held at Fountain Street Church right here in Grand Rapids, MI on his favorite holiday, Halloween or as Joe called it "All hallows Eve." Click here to read that Fountain Street Discussion.

I feel that all of this is even more fitting because it is, of course Halloween time (also my favorite holiday!).

I'll leave you with this quote from Joe himself:

"What am I? Am I the bulb that carries the light, or am I the light of which the bulb is a vehicle?"

"One of the psychological problems in growing old is the fear of death. People can resist the door of death. But this body is a vehicle of consciousness, and if you can identify with the consciousness, you can watch the body go like an old car. There goes the fender, there goes the tire, one thing after another - but it's predictable. And then, gradually, the whole thing drops off, and consciousness rejoins consciousness. It's no longer in this particular environment."

(Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, pp. 70-71)

Trick or Treat!

All the best,
~Craig

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Masks We Wear


Fall, the season when there is a crispness in the air, the smell of Autumn replaces the dog days of summer, leaves turn the trees to a beautiful canopy of color and of course Halloween! My favorite holiday. Halloween is the one time of the year when people put on masks to become someone (or something) else for a night, right? Well, not exactly... You see we all wear masks everyday; behavioral masks. Masks that we learned to use to manage our world. Masks, that many people are not conscious of wearing. These masks are worn seemingly to protect us in some way. Early in life we developed a habit to put them on to deal with our feelings, to deal with other people, and to deal with situations. These masks are not necessarily good or bad, but our habit can sometimes be hazardous if we've developed unhealthy ways of dealing with emotions, people or circumstances. On the other side of the coin, when we deal with other people it is too easy to no longer see the person (Life Value) behind the behavior (mask) and thus begin to disrespect the individual if they are not acting in a way that we see as acceptable.

You may be thinking what?! In English please...  Ok, simply separate the person from their behavior rather than having their actions determine their (life) value and how you treat them. Why? Simple, if our goal is to manage conflict more effectively, having a plan, a map and some tools really helps us to be much more effective in dealing with emotions, people & situations.

It helps us to understand that every person wears a mask and that behind every mask (behavioral habits) there is a person (Life Value).  Using this concept can be a powerful tool when dealing with conflict either inside of ourselves or with another person. Remember we are not our masks no more than other people are theirs.

Masks? What do you mean Masks?

You don't really have to be a psychologist to understand some basic human behaviors. I've had the pleasure of being around some master conflict managers, persuaders & de-escalators. They came from all walks of life; some of them were cops, bartenders, teachers, managers, parents, body guards, grand parents, sales people, military personnel, martial artists, bouncers, correctional officers, counselors, P.I.'s  and cabbies (to name a few). I have ridden with police officers that could have the most violent person thanking him as he was being put in the back of the cruiser, and others who through their mere presence would exasperate a mildly annoying individual or inconvenient situation into a full on brawl. Amazing indeed. I realized quickly that some people acted as a fire extinguisher and others as gasoline.

What was their trick?

I saw some similarities that the professional ones all had in common, among these similarities were:

1) The ability to be confident and keep their cool under pressure and emotional stress.
2) Treat the individual with dignity and respect, despite the their actions.
3) Deal with the person's actions professionally fairly, without malice, greed or serving their own ego.
4) Know when to stop talking.
5) Have a plan if words weren't enough to resolve the situation.

(Of course they had other similarities I was able to gleen into a usable approach, but that's for another day...)

Now where were we?! Oh yes, masks... As I was saying Halloween reminded me about masks that people wear. Basically we all have developed habits for dealing with:

1) Emotions.
2) People.
3) Situations.

These habits turn into behaviors when we interact with other people and those behaviors we wear as masks. We could go on and on about all of these different pseudo-psychological nuances about these so called masks, but for our purposes we can categorize all of them into three basic types:






That's right all of you spaghetti western fans: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly! Sometimes we wear our Good Guy Mask: We do as we are told, we act nice, we are polite and do what is expected of us. Sometimes we wear our Bad Guy Mask: We are stubborn, cranky, cantankerous or just an outright asshole, however if treated in the right way we will come around and change our behavior. Other times we put on our Ugly Mask: Everyone has acted ugly sometime in our life, you know, we've said yes, but meant no, we went behind someone's back, we told little white lies to get our way or believed that the "ends justified the means" in some way. It takes some people a lot to get to the point of putting on this mask, others wear it all the time to deal with their everyday lives.

Regardless of what mask the person is wearing, if we are to better manage the conflict, we need to see behind their behavioral mask to the Life Value (LV) of the person. We have to respect that LV while dealing with their actions. By seeing through the mask to the person while we professionally deal with their behavior, our chances of positively managing the situation increases dramatically.

If you disrespect the person's LV they typically resist... In other words even if you get them to comply with your request you probably created an enemy, which will require constant management in order to keep that person complying. If you treat the person with respect while dealing with their behavior you can often gain an ally even if you have to discipline them or correct their behavior in some manner. This can be very beneficial for you in many ways, among which increasing the likely hood of them being inspired to help you even if they don't have too while reducing the chances of you developing PTSD if you have to make some difficult decisions while dealing with the person or situation. You see, we make most decisions emotionally and then use logic to justify those decisions. The state we want to achieve is the ability to make the best conscious decision we can rather than reacting out of habit to our emotion, a person or a situation.

So here is your homework:

1) Try to see what emotion, person or situation causes you to put on your mask?
2) What mask do you commonly put on?
3) Try to see through other peoples mask's to their Life Value.
4) How can you protect and respect the Life Value while professionally dealing with their actions?

Whew, that was quite a mouthful! So on that note I hope that all of you have a wonderful Halloween and remember, when you put on your costume to go to your All Hallows Eve party, think about the masks that we wear everyday and how we often make value judgements on people because we aren't looking behind their mask. If we want to better manage conflict, keep a cool head and treat the person behind the mask with respect while professionally dealing with their actions.

Trick or Treat!

~Craig 




Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Key to Success

Warrior Dash 2012 - Finish Line
Andy Veen & Craig Gray


There was a young man who wanted to be successful in life, so he went to this old guru who was very successful at everything he did and asked him how he did it. The guru said to meet him on the beach at 6am the next day and he'd show him how to be successful. So, next morning the young man dresses in his best clothes and meets the guru on the beach at 6 am.

The old man grabs on to the young mans hand and asked, "How bad do you want to be successful?"


The young man says, "really bad."

So the old man takes the young man by the hand and wades waist deep out into the morning surf. The young man is thinking, this old man is crazy, I want to be successful, not learn how to swim! But he humors the old man because he wants to know how he became so successful.

The old man goes out deeper in the water and says "come out a little further."  So the young man does. Now the water is up to his chest and the young man is starting to think about going back in. The guru sees his hesitation and says, "I thought you wanted to succeed in life?" To which the young man replies, "I do." Well then, the old man says, you'll need to come out further.

About the time when the young man walked out deeper until the water is just below his lips, the guru pushed the young man's head down under the water and held him down. The young man began to panic and struggle, but the guru held him down firmly. The startled young man kept thrashing around trying to get to the surface, but the guru continued to hold his head down. Just when the young man was ready to pass out the old man let him go.

Coming up gasping for air the young man screamed, "You crazy old bastard, what are you doing trying to kill me?" To which the guru replied, "When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful."

The journey to success in anything often takes more than we hope or we would like. It is not easy, nor is it convenient. It take hard work and sacrifice. There are no short cuts to success. Most people who say they want to be successful don't want it bad enough, they just kinda want it. They'll take it if it's easy enough, if it's cheap enough, if it's convenient enough, if it fits in with everything else they have going on in life. If it isn't they give up and make excuses why it wasn't their fault that they aren't successful. Or they try to measure their success by the stuff they have rather than the life that they are living.

Don't go and quit, your already in pain, you've already sacrificed, make your pain and sacrifice worth something. Keep going. You will never be successful until you're willing to do it without being paid a dime. You'll do it even when it isn't convenient or easy. When you want to be successful as much as you want to breathe then you'll succeed. 

Are you willing to do what it takes to be successful?

If you are, be careful at what you choose to be successful in.

Keep going.
~Craig

*Story and some commentary paraphrased from Rap Preacher Eric Thomson


Monday, September 17, 2012

Ethics and the Ethical Warrior

Guest blog post by John Kowalski - Visit his websit at www.babacita.com




Ethics are a funny thing. Defined as 1) moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity; and 2) the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.

Huh? Still not sure what that means. A couple weekends ago I got the privilege to attend a workshop by Ronin Empowerment Group that featured Jack Hoban of Resolution Group International (RGI) on the subject of the Ethical Warrior. Jack served as a US Marine Corps officer and is a long time practitioner of martial arts. He assisted in the creation of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and remains a subject matter expert for the program. He has led more than 500 workshops and seminars around the world addressing universities, government and private organizations on ethics and martial arts, including the FBI and the NYPD.

A good reminder for all of us and Jack’s definitions definitely outline a clear understanding of the hierarchy of values.
  • Values – “Things that have an intrinsic worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor,” or “principles, standards, or qualities considered worthwhile or desirable.”
  •  Relative values – Values shared by some people, some of the time (sporting team fans).
  •  Life value – Shared by everyone – life (the first inalienable right).
  • Moral values – Moral values are relative values that support life and respect the Dual Life Value of self and (all) others. (honor, courage, commitment, love, integrity, justice, charity, truth, freedom, dependability, knowledge, unselfishness, loyalty)

To be moral, the relative value must respect the Life value of self and (all) others. The Life value of self and others is the “true north” of the moral compass. We can orient ourselves using the Life value during times of moral confusion.

Most people already have a sense of morality, but sometimes morals can be obscured or trumped by our emotions and/or strong relative values. Rather than “taught,” morality can be clarified then “activated” through: lessons in context, values stores, shared adversity and leadership.
Ethics are moral values in action.

A person who knows the difference between right and wrong – and chooses the right – is moral. A person whose morality is reflected in their willingness to do the right thing – even if it is hard or dangerous – is ethical.

Think of the bully on the playground. Where does your compass point you?
Each one of us are faced with moral and ethical dilemmas each and every day, ranging in scale, but nonetheless important. Keep in mind that ethics are moral values in action, which always support the universal life value.

To learn more about values, morals and ethics, pick up a copy of Jack’s book, The Ethical Warrior.

It’s a great read and an model for all of us to Evolve, Connect and Inspire.

Where does your compass point?

~Guest blog post by John Kowalski - Visit his websit at www.babicita.com

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ethical Leadership Expert Comes to Grand Rapids

                                             


Conflict, bullying, and unethical leadership is rampant in today's society. We see this all around us, it's in our government, at our jobs and in our schools. Many people are upset and angry. We often feel helpless and don't know what to do, so most don't do anything except complain. Sometimes we believe that our hands are tied, thinking that there is no way we can help. Or worse, you feel that there is something that you would like to do, but you don't have the resources to do it. Well, Jack Hoban, Resolution Group International and Ronin Empowerment Group are trying to help make a difference by offering a FREE Ethical Leadership Presentation and book signing on Saturday, August 25th from 10am until 11:30am here in Grand Rapids, MI. *Registration is required to attend (see below).


Jack will be sharing ideas from his new book The Ethical Warrior. He will explain revolutionary concepts regarding cross cultural conflict management and leadership that can change the way you look at conflict in your life and your career. These methodologies are currently being embraced by leading professionals all over the world.

Jack's presentation will be of great value to those interested in living a balanced, happy and ethical life and creating a safer, more fulfilling career. He addresses important questions such as:

~ Is there a "true north" on the moral compass?

~ Is there an objective value that can be used to qualify our relative values as moral or immoral?

~ How do we reject our tendency to dehumanize others not of our "in-group"- including our enemies & respect true human equality?

~ How do we do "the right thing" under the stresses of everyday life?

Jack's will also be signing and selling his newly released book "The Ethical Warrior" for those who are interested in learning more about the Universal Life Value, what this revolutionary perspective is, how it works and how it can positively impact your own career and life.

 Ethical Warrior Book

Jack was shaped by service in the U.S. Marine Corps, a life-changing epiphany at a Cold War bar, and mentorship under two masters: The 34th generation grandmaster of the shadowy art of the Ninja and a sage of the Natural Law who may just have deciphered the meaning of life. He now delivers a revolutionary view of moral values for our time epitomized by the Ethical Warrior - protector of self and others as equal human beings. Hoban's methodology reaches from the Greek ancients to the counterinsurgency efforts of today's Marines to provide ethical clarity and confidence in our moral actions.


What people are saying about Jacks presentations:

"I recently listened to Jack Hoban's talk about the "Ethical Warrior/Protector" for one hour and 15 minutes. I honestly learned more about values, morals and ethics and their application, especially to law enforcement, in that 75 minutes than in my entire almost two decades of study. I highly recommend that all true leaders invest time in learning more about what Mr. Hoban has to say."

 - Police Officer Survival Instructor

"Life changing." 

- U.S. Marine Martial Arts Instructor Trainer 


Jack's brief bio:

Jack Hoban served as a U.S. Marine Corps officer and is a long time practitioner of martial arts. He assisted in the creation of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and remains a subject matter expert for the program. Hoban has led more than 500 workshops and seminars around the world addressing universities, government and private organizations on ethics and martial arts, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the New York Police Department (NYPD). He was a longtime associate of the late Robert L. Humphrey, noted conflict resolution specialist and author of "Values for a New Millennium." Hoban is also a master instructor in the Japanese Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu martial arts system.


*Jack Hoban's morning presentation (10am - 11:30am) is FREE, but you MUST be registered. Hurry, because space is limited and the presentation is filling up fast! For registration, email Craig Gray the names of those who are attending, I will then email you the address: roninkravmaga@gmail.com to reserve your seat.

I hope to see you there.

All the best,
~Craig

Conflict is Your Choice




Is there an argument if only one person chooses to argue, rant and rave? We have to remember that conflict is more about deciding what YOU are going to do, how YOU choose to respond and less about what the other person is doing. Yes, a conflict involves a relationship of sorts, however how you choose to engage has more to do with the outcome than most people realize. Too often we enter into a conflict in a heightened state of emotion that tries to make our decision for us regarding how to address the situation. In order to be tactical we have to be in control of our emotions. Be the "eye of the storm" so to speak. Although it is natural to feel emotion, it does not benefit us to let our emotions control us to the point that we are allowing them to make unhealthy or unsafe decisions on our behalf.

Some tips when it comes to conflict:

See Conflict as an Opportunity to learn. At the very least learn from a tactical perspective; learn who or what you are dealing with.

Know what True North is. In order to have the proverbial "moral compass" you have to know where the magnetic North is in order for your "Compass" to work. What is it? In the case of a PeaceWalker, Ethical Warrior or a professional that True North is Life. Period. Choose Life over death. Choose Respect over disrespect. Choose professionalism over not being professional. This is non-conditional. This does not mean let the other person dictate to you what True North is by their actions. True North doesn't change. It remains the same regardless of external events. This also doesn't mean that I will condone or not deal with the negative behavior. It means that I will deal with the negative behavior WHILE keeping True North of choosing life and respecting the person. Simple NOT easy! As a North Dakota Police Officer said, "We treat people like ladies and gentlemen not because THEY always are, but because WE always are."

Be the Eye of the Storm - Control your emotions rather than being controlled by them. Tactical grounding (being grounded now, in the moment) and foundational grounding (keeping your life in balance) are essential. As Charles Swindoll said, "Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it!"

Work toward Most Good / Least Harm for everyone involved. Most good / least harm doesn't always mean no harm. Sometimes casualties are inevitable (emotional, verbal, physical), however doing our best to minimize the damage to the least possible degree and do what is best for all in the big picture, will help to build allies rather than enemies and reduce regrets later.

Share through inspiration: This is a fancy term for walking the walk so to speak. Don't bully people to do what you want. People have a better chance of changing their behavior if they choose to do so, not by you forcing them to change. So, if you are able, share through inspiration, lead by example the best that you can.  This will also help you to create Allies Rather than Enemies which will lend itself to being able to manage people, or groups more effectively with much less effort. In effect, you will help to build a foundation for people being able to manage themselves.

Compliance is better than Chaos - Cooperation is better than Compliance - Collaboration is better than Cooperation - Cohesion is better than Collaboration - Camaraderie is better than Cohesion. The closer the group gets to camaraderie the less management is needed to change the person's behavior, however respect is also needed to move that person along the continuum as well. Without respect cooperation and/or compliance will be the best case scenario regarding changing someones behavior. This takes the most amount of management.

"The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”

Viktor E. Frankl


All the best,
~Craig



Friday, August 10, 2012

Between Self & Others



I observed an interesting phenomenon recently. It all started when I received an email from Franklin Fudail. Mr. Fudail was inquiring about a women's assault prevention workshop that I teach called Her Survival Guide.  (HSG is a program that I've been teaching all over the United States for more than two decades now.) 

Franklin introduced his organization and explained what and why they were doing what they were doing. He said that he had been following me and my organizations for some time and liked what I was up to. Then he asked how much I charged to teach the workshop. Although now that I teach conflict management for a living I do charge for my services, however I still think it is important to donate time to those in need, it helps them and it helps me too. So, I dedicate a certain amount of hours to serve my fellow brothers and sisters out there. I try to pay it forward a little when I can. Most of it goes unseen by many, which is good, because as NYFD hero Capt. Pat Brown said true service is done in silence. (Pat tragically lost his life saving others in the attack on the World Trade Building in New York on 9/11). But once in a while an opportunity is given like this one and even though I don't make decisions based on getting a bunch of publicity, it is nice when I get some and I gladly take it when it comes. Thus the facebook post and this blog post.

I try to give to those people who need it, but honestly can't afford it. This is not to be confused with those people and organizations who can afford it, but try to get it discounted or donated even though they have the resources. To those folks I would like to remind you that there are people out there that really need financial help and when you don't contribute it hurts those who really don't have the means. Too many "non-profit" organizations sit up on their high horses looking down on others just before driving away in their BMW's, taking vacations in their $300k summer homes, touting about their lofty altruistic goals as they do more to take advantage of and provide tax shelters than support the cause. I'll gladly compare accounting records with you regarding how much of the money coming in goes to the actual cause of helping people! What can each of us do to contribute to the betterment of humanity?! What are YOU doing? Go get another latte' and think about it. When it comes to helping: Lead, follow, or get out of our way!

Sorry about that little rant. I am human so, sometimes I get a little frustrated with some organizations and people out there.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yea...

If you haven't been keeping up with the news, you may not know that Muskegon has been struggling. There have also been numerous girls disappearing either through being abducted or running away.  Franklin's Muskegon Heights Boxing Club and the Barbara J. Matthews Summer Empowerment Program for Girls is trying to do something about it. They are down in the trenches helping out kids and families who need it. Franklin and his staff are making a difference in those young people's lives in a community that is struggling. 

I saw that there are good people who need help in something that I have some expertise in. And since I believe that we are all in this together, I asked Franklin if it would be alright to just donate my time to do the workshop at no cost to their organization. 

Now you may be wondering to yourself why I am blabbing about this in my blog? Didn't I just quote Capt. Pat Brown about real service being in silence? You're right, I did, but let me go on with my story...

It is interesting how the universe works. As Joseph Campbell says, "Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls." I am finding this to be true. Scary, but true. It takes a lot of hard work and faith to open those doors. Most quit before they give themselves (or the universe) a chance.

Anyway, after I asked to donate the HSG program, Franklin was very appreciative.He said that he owned the Muskegon Tribune Newspaper and that he was going to have one of his reporters call me to do an article on me. I wasn't expecting him to do something like that, but I thought that it was nice of him to put "a little blurb" in the back of the paper or something (which is what I usually get). I wasn't expecting being on the FRONT COVER! I was stunned and a bit humbled. To say that it was very generous would be an understatement! (Franklin, if you are reading this, thanks brother. I really appreciate it!)

I made a few changes to the curriculum to accommodate the age group and called on a friend and student of mine, Todd Hendricks to lend a hand if he could. Todd is the assistant dean at Timberland Charter School in Muskegon. He has been training with me in Krav Maga for a couple years as well as a graduate of my PeaceWalker conflict management/leadership program. Between that and his experience working with kids, I thought he would be a great addition to the event. And he was. Todd is an inspiring leader. We need more people like Todd in our education system out there. He is also in the trenches every day making a difference in peoples lives.

The ride out to Muskegon was beautiful, especially if you take the back roads (which I did). I wove Westward around Leonard Street. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the trees were tall and green, there was little breeze, jammin' to some old school Sammy Hagar on the stereo, doing what I love to do, train with people while maybe even make the world a little better place! =) Beats the hell out of a cubicle in corporate America. Life doesn't get much better than this!

In about 50 minutes I arrived in Muskegon and met Franklin for the first time. He is a wonderful, humble, respectful man. I can tell by the way he holds himself that he is sincere. We are lucky to have him as a mentor to our kids who need some guidance in their lives. Thanks Franklin.

I got the gym a little early to set up, so Franklin helped me unload my car. A little later Todd showed up, followed by the girls. Once 4pm rolled around we had about fifteen young ladies waiting to learn, share and grow. And that is what we did for the next hour and a half! We talked about the 6 A's of safety  we worked on controlling our tactical space, as well as some wrist releases. The most important things we covered is having the right Attitude! Don't play the victim. As Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl once said, "You can't always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it."

After the workshop I felt as I always feel after a training session: Reconnected, energized and excited! 

Once home I decided to share the newspaper article on my facebook page and was overwhelmed by all of the "likes" and comments! I received over 70 likes on my personal page and dozens on the other pages that I have (Ronin Empowerment Group, The PeaceWalker Project & Ronin Krav Maga). Now I've have posted messages that have received numerous "likes" and comments, but none compare to this post. 

Why was this one so different? Was it because I was on the front cover of a periodical? Nope, I've posted about being in other magazines, like Rapid Growth Media, Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, even on Nationally Syndicated Frontlines of Freedom or ABC TV13 and nothing compared to this article. WHY?! Well, I think because it dealt with helping OTHERS! Yes, that's right folks. I think people connected with this post so much because I was helping other people who needed it. This is what Dr. Robert Humphrey's Dual Life Values talks about. Self preservation is respected, we all want to survive and we like to learn skills that help us to do that, however we connect even more deeply with protecting others. I think knowingly or not, when everyone heard about the girls getting training in how to protect themselves it was accessing their own protector mindset at a deeper level because it was helping SOMEONE ELSE.  Now please don't confuse my message, I am NOT saying that I am any sort of hero for doing this, I am simply pointing out that we connect more deeply with protecting others more so than ourselves. I think that all the facebook "Likes" and comments support that protector perspective. Who doesn't want their young daughter to be protected? We are all protectors at heart, sometime we need only activate it! My friend and training brother Jack Hoban goes into great detail on this in his new book The Ethical Warrior. If you haven't read it you should! It really sheds light on this.  As a matter of fact, I'm having Jack come in and do both a presentation and workshop this month, so if you are interested click for more info.

So there are my thoughts for the day! Now it's off to Frontlines of Freedom to record Denny Gillem and my latest segment regarding safety tactics during domestic or international terrorism! 

All the best,
~Craig


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Tactic of the Technique is the Ethic



"All actions derive from philosophy."
                       ~ Ancient Greek saying

"Even if unsure what that philosophy is."
                                             ~ Jack Hoban

Well, it's been a week since I dropped Jack Hoban off at the airport - everything before that is a blur. The annual ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association) conference, annual Chicagoland Buyu Workshop, the new RGI Tactical Maneuver video shoot, candid talk and training (and steaks!) with Jack - the Ethical Warrior himself - not to mention my first ever experience of the man behind the man, the late Dr. Robert Humphrey, Jack's mentor. Arguably, the most profound moment of our time together.

With the great Tom Cline,
Chicago Police Academy
It is no coincidence that members of ILEETA, as well as some of the most prestigious tactical trainers and experts in the field today, showed up to hear and promote Jack on his Ethical Warrior(EW) presentation and mindset. LE officers from across the US showed their great support for Jack and his mission - to better protect those who protect - for one simple reason: It works. Not only has the training been tried, tested, and approved by the US Marine Corps no less, it is now being discovered by many others including the likes of the NYPD and the Park Ranger Service. Even leaders of the Chicago Police Academy offered their tremendous approval. And with violence out of control here in Chicago, they know we could sure use it.

What is harder to describe is why the EW method feels so right. See, the psychology of our inherent "life value" is rather inscrutable. When we hear the "Hunting Story" is it empathy we feel? Humility? Compassion? What is it that drives us to its inevitable conclusion, that our lives really are equal, in that we value them in the very same ways?

Now, the Hunting Story may be unconvincing and simply too abstract for the materialist, Randian, or relativist who may wish to say, 'We are obviously not all equal human beings, and as such do not deserve respect simply because we exist.' Which, you know, is fine to believe I guess, so long as they can answer this simple question: Then why not take the knife offered in the Hunting Story, jump down off the back of the truck and kill the villager? If life truly is relative, and not an objective, universal value as we suggest, then this action should bear one no concern.              

Jack and the team at Resolution Group International(RGI), offer ongoing certifications in the methodology. In fact, our next cert is this July. Join us! For more information goto: Resolution Group International

Also, check out Jack's interview by PoliceOne.

Chicagoland Buyu Seminar 04/21/2012
The annual Chicagoland Buyu seminar always brings together new and old friends alike and has over the years become the conduit for many in the Bujinkan to capture once again the feel for the positive warrior ethic. And we covered so much in just one afternoon: Integration from within the body of Taijutsu's physically sustainable protections, ethical transmission of tactical maneuvering, submission, and weapons, not to mention tried and true aspects of the Kihon Happo delivered with Jack's signature perceptions.
Not me smiling.
Jack's frank and sincere perspectives on training and warriorship are as valuable as they are prescient. For the more we "get tactical" without getting ethical first, the more apt we are to incur the very kind of physical, mental, and emotional trauma and scars we are out to avoid through the single-minded pursuit of tactics and techniques. In other words, trying to "out thug the thug" just doesn't work.  

I was happy to see my RGI colleague Craig Gray, who came in from Michigan to train with us. Craig has become an integral part of RGI and assisted with the filming of the new tactical maneuver video we shot last Sunday. And a big thanks goes out to good friend and fellow Buyu Jon Phillips who was gracious enough to lend not only his production expertise, but also his studio for the shoot. Looking forward to the results!

But by far the most poignant moment came Sunday night. We had just returned from an incredible dinner at Morton's - the original, no less - when Jack reminded me about Dr. Humphrey's video: nearly two hours of interview in the year before his untimely death in 1997.

Hearing him, seeing him was dramatic. I have studied his work and writings for almost 10 years now, but within minutes, he shattered whatever soundtrack and image I had. I pictured him with a baritone voice and broad shoulders, but that was not this man. The image that looked back was soft spoken, gentle even, with a wise and even handed gaze - Yoda-like. But his hands looked like baseball mitts - large and broken in - from all his years boxing, I suppose.

He spoke methodically, yet causally about the very same things we speak of today, using the very same words we continue to use - his approach to cross-cultural conflict, his thoughts on the value and meaning of life. He told not the Hunting Story, but talked about the hunting trip itself, a rare glance into his mindset at the time. There was no rush, no hurry to his thoughts, they came easy as he explained himself, his history, and his work. There was confidence there, assuredness in where he had been, what he had done, and how he had done it. It was not bragging - someone had simply asked and he answered, as he might answer a curious student, an interested service member.

Jack mentions the filming was actually done one night at training when Dr. Humphrey had visited the dojo. Which made perfect sense, for at the end of the interview, he kindly excuses himself and says he has to get back to the other room ... get back to training. Then the image went black.

I just stared at the screen like I'm staring at this one.

Shit. I gotta get to training. 




Evolve, Connect, Inspire: A Heart-Centered Approach to Business & Life

Written by John Kowalski  - Babicita on May 1, 2012 -  Re-posted from Evolvingbeings.com




Throughout my career, predominantly made up of marketing agencies, corporate communications and consulting, the primary driver of ethics was always front and center. But over the years I’ve learned that simple ethics aren’t enough. Not enough for business. Not enough for me personally. Not enough for the world. We can do better.
 
I heard this said the other day after an injustice “It’s just business, Kelly… It’s just business.” Bullshit. Businesses running with that mindset are dinosaurs. Those days are long gone and if they aren’t evolving (quickly), they will be left behind. We are entering the democratic age and business now is shifting to the heart. Loyalty, productivity, talent attraction and retention, creativity and innovation, customer preference, community and the bottom line. It’s the right thing to do on every level.

Many years ago I had the privilege of working with Fred Keller, Founder and CEO of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Cascade Engineering.  An amazing entrepreneur who has built his business based on purpose and heart, Keller lives by a simple checklist that supports his values:

  • Do all the good you can
  • By all the means you can
  • In all the ways you can
  • In all the places you can
  • At all the times you can
  • To all the people you can
  • As long as ever you can
Pretty cool, huh? This has stuck with me over the years and I now see it coming out in my work.
I had always referred to myself as a “marketing guy.” But looking back, putting that label on me was so limiting. I was much more than a “marketing guy.” I was a systematic thinker, a creative individual, a dreamer, a connector, an efficiency and process expert. As people, we don’t fit nice and neatly into boxes, so why should I? That was the beginning my journey.

A Journey to the Core

Fast forward to just over a year ago. With the need to differentiate my consulting business – get me out of a box – I put myself through a personal branding exercise. It took several months and was the most extensive exercise I had ever put myself through. But in the end it wasn’t my consulting business that I was outlining, but my own core values.
Through this exercise, I am now happy to say that I can articulate exactly what my core values are:
  • Service – A sense of doing more for humanity and human rights
  • Compassion – A true sense of giving and helping others
  • Organization – Forethought and planning, systematic, efficient
  • Accomplishment – Driven and motivated to accomplishment and providing value
This is who I am. With these values, through my work, I help individuals, departments and organizations Evolve, Connect and Inspire. That is my value, my Self, my heart-centered approach.
So what does this all mean? It means that every action that I spend my time on supports these core values. From a marketing and branding perspective it’s consistency and brand strengthening, from a personal approach. It feeds and nurtures who I am and from a client perspective, it’s passionate value.


As part of my values, I also hold my clients to this higher standard. In addition to donating 10% of my fees to one of my favorite non-profit organizations or one of my client’s choice, I have developed a set of criteria for clients. Here is an excerpt from http://babacita.com/doing-good/:
The following criteria have been put in place, and need to be met, for Babacita service acceptance:
  • Mission/value statement includes mention of community/regional/global positive impact
  • Dedication to community/regional/global service through time, resources, products or services in excess dollar value of $2,500 (adjusted based on size of organization)
If you do not meet the above criteria, Babacita service acceptance will be issued upon verification of:
  • A donation of $100 (individual), $500 (under 50 employees) or $1,000 (over 50 employees) must be made to (choice of above organization)
Ok… so now my consulting business was on track and I was off and running on exactly what I was meant to do.

SURPRISE!!! This wasn’t even close to being accurate.

Heart-Centered Creativity



You see… as part of this process of identifying my values, my heart was now opening up wider than it had ever been before. An awakening to a higher consciousness! I was seeing colors more vibrantly, my senses were heightened, my work was better, my creativity was off the charts. I was feeling deeper than ever before. I was evolving.


Speaking of my creativity, I self-published a book, Train to the Moon. Now this book isn’t about marketing or organizational efficiencies, but a love story of two souls connected in spirit. I think this shocked a lot of people, but this is just an example of the new level of creativity flowing effortlessly from me. It had always been there, but had just been hidden away until my heart finally knocked my mind out of the way and took control. I have never felt such freedom, such power and it’s all because of my heart-centered approach to everything. Work… life… everything now honors my Self.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the planets were aligning and things were just falling into my lap. I was meeting some amazing individuals and developing new relationships, new connections… all of which supported me and my values. I also became a PeaceWalker Project Conflict Management Certified Coach and was chosen to be one of ten consultants representing WorldBlu and the mission of workplace democracy, two opportunities that directly fell in line with the direction I envisioned myself and my business heading.

The PeaceWalker Project is based on Dr. Robert Humphrey’s Universal Life Value that all life is precious and to be respected and protected. PeaceWalker’s are confident, open-minded individuals who inspire. They live courageous, empowered lives of awe, curiosity and wonder. They continually learn, practice, grow and contribute, as they become the change that they want to see in the world around them. A defining quote on the PeaceWalker is from Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: The last of human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

WorldBlu’s purpose is to elevate the human spirit through organizational democracy and freedom-centered leadership. This is based on the WorldBlu 10 Principles of Organizational Democracy:
  1. Purpose & Vision
  2. Transparency
  3. Dialogue & Listening
  4. Accountability
  5. Choice
  6. Individual & Collective
  7. Fairness & Dignity
  8. Integrity
  9. Decentralization
  10. Reflection & Evaluation
Both of those things directly support me and Evolve, Connect, Inspire. Through the value supporting trainings of both, the PeaceWalker Project and WorldBlu certifications, I am continuing my evolution.

Conclusion

So, I know this is a lot of talk about me, but use my journey as a guide. My journey is one of absolute transparency, a new perspective on work and life, and one that everyone is capable of. This new level of consciousness resides in us all, and I challenge you to evolve and shift to a heart-centered approach. You will not regret it and ultimately, neither will everyone around you.
The main point I want to make is to first, be true to your Self and identify your values. Then do anything and everything you can to support and nurture them. That is where the evolution really takes off. You will see a difference personally and professionally. This is honoring your Self and moving into a higher consciousness. This is a good thing for all of us.

With me and this heart-centered feeling approach, I’m making a difference and I feel that I am just scratching the surface. I am discovering new things every day about my Self and this beautiful world in which we live in. There is so much more in me. I am making this world better, and I’m just beginning.


I challenge you to open your heart, to evolve and to honor who you truly are. You will be amazed at the results.

About the Author



John Kowalski is a strategic marketing professional of 20 years embarking on a life-changing career direction guided by values, purpose and skill-set. With a heart-centered approach to work and life, John utilizes experience, process and change disciplines to empower individual and organizational evolution, connection and inspiration to enable clients to reach their true potential. To learn more, visit Babacita.com